UGC2 – Futures of Entertainment

Notes from lat 90mins

Q: interested in the gameworld economics.  Games were initially one track, single developers, now we keep expanding, now MMORG, more user generated.   Game developers are stepping back; where do you think the developers will end up?  Will users have more control?    How do we move forward with game currency?   People do not act the same way in virtual world…what will the economics.


Kevin: if only 1% are creating, there is still 99% pf people who need a product. Therefore always necessity to have professional developers to support this.  On economics, the use of real world currency to create virtual currency can be a problem.  How do we develop way to be secure, safe etc to provide a consistent experience for the consumer.  The community at large still have a larger brainpower to get round the system.  There’s always a new problem and we still have to solve it.

Rob: no matter how clever you are as a developer you will still not be cleverer than the web…so those who invite participation may be more successful.   Games are a very interesting…as a designer you are a developer, toymaker, story teller.  You need many different skills and it is a complex process to manage.    So will the developer step back? It depends what you are trying to create.   The designer may want to leave room for people to create themselves.  Most artistic forms end with a single result, games often have multiple endings.  I see the games opening up to more UGC, whether SL or WoW.  The reward participation on many levels, one of which is the creation of things in the game which can be traded.  And this can be gamed.   Today… you have companies that play games for you to build levels…to create objects that can be sold in real world.   The companies that design the game assert they own the content, they own the IP of the objects that are created ingame so they cannot be sold in real life.  If you open up your world to people see emergent behaviour they do not expect at all.    Open APIS embrace the notion of emergent behaviour.  You enlist your audience to propagate your meme.


Josh:this raises the question of labour.  If UGC create value for the company, do you compensate them


Caterina: youtube and revver.  Which one took off?   There are different motivations; making this cool video of lipsynching to get fame, notoriety as opposed ot sitting there and working out what can get you money.  Different ways of thinking, gets different content. Revver is commercial, youtube is real (in general).   There are lots of people who do make money from the Flickr photos, they don’t facilitate it, it happens.  If you want to sell your photos, there are other ways to do it.

Ji: the bubble project got a lot of interest from commercial companies, who wanted to do it different ways.  But the reason why people were interested was that it was not commercial.  Look at lonelygirl15, on the cover of wired magazine complaining she not get paid.


Q: what is fair use and what is derivative. Has their been legal issues in Ji publishing the books with the bubbles.


Ji: I just create a platform for people to communicate.  Have been called a vandal a lot.   He makes it clear that they do not support vandalism.  He did get a few issues with police and requests from the lawyer from van wagner about stopping his work.. but it is now outside his control and a life of his own.  It’s in the domain of people who are doing it, no one is responsible.  On the website…he spoke to his lawyer and is comfortable.  Changing the context of ad by putting sticker and creating an artistic photo, so creating an artistic work so protected.


Q: how do you pick out a community to stake out your territory (as a user).  From a user, how do you sort out what there is.   Once you make your choice, how do cope with your choice changing.  With all of the sites you do not know where they going.   How do you agree with trust?


Rob: check out ToU for youtube.

Caterina – check out flickr – you own your content.   Not all photos sites do.

Q: friendster changed….it changed the trust.

Caterina: worked on netscape a long time ago.   After AOL bought it, they shut down the communities.  It was bloodshed, all the people who had developed communities, there was no where to go, you could not find your friends.  Companies appear to be learning you cannot do.  Insistent when joined Yahoo that they did not change things.  Yes, there could be too many sites out there, you need to choose which ones to put your energy into.   I try a lot of things, but don’t carry on.   So what comes after this, after participatory media.  Speaking to Linda Stone, (continuous partial attention.)  who suggested we are moving away from lots of social connections and moving towards being able to chose the connections, constricting the networks.  Focusing on the key number of people.  Less of multiple connecting, more to the focus on you key services, key people.  So what is the killer app for this world?


Q: when thinking about UGC, it is still cutting edge.  Online, quite young.  Can it really become a mass phenomenon.   How about people who don’t have the time and energy to plough through this?  Is there roles for choice editors?


Caterina: bought up Brad Horowitz pyramid.   This is typical across many of these services.  Ever since the internet has existed, the lurker has been there.   They just consume.  They are still in it, just not doing anything.  

Rob: what do you mean by mass?   It is, look at the profiles.   It is mass.   It may not be across all the demo, but it is mass.

Q: look at US population, it is still limited, so what are the others doing?

Rob: savvy marketers are using myspace like crazy.  There are over 300 networking sites at least, for all segments.


Rob: it is important if you are asking people to invest time, you are being entrusted with something precious.  It may not be monetizable, but it is worth something to the user.  If you exploit the content, then you lose the trust.  It is worth paying attention to the sites ToU, so you understand where your content is going. Especially as you create your identity across the web.

Caterina: the AOL search thing was a good example.   You could track down people from what searches were done.  


Q: (advertiser).  When there is a model to monetise for UGC, will this hurt or help?


Caterina: people don’t pay for distribution, they pay for storage when they are a member.   There are advertisements (but not on pro) and you won’t see them on an individual user photo.  


Q: You’ve talked about ratings and whether to use or not.   And how do you get critical mass at the beginning when starting these things?


Caterina: we were assiduous community builders from the start.  Every single person that came to the site, they greeted.  They would engage in conversation, they would chat, around the clock.  Cos every single one of those users was important.  We wanted them to come back.   But this does not scale, but you have established a culture that everyone is social and greets people.  You have to establish the accepted behaviour.  

Rob: meshes with a new trend.  The first wave was sites that let you connect with a community of friends and it moves to communities of interest, linking round a hobby. Now ,moving to a community of practice, whether religion or social etc, where you have a common sensibility.   It’s hard to create a new practice and create a new mode of behaviour.  

Caterina: legs pantyhouse wanted a community, so put up all these photos.  All the fetishists turned up  – not what they wanted.

Ji: took about 3 years to get to the critical mass.   There was the virtual aspect and the real aspect.   Both were important, the two elements co-exist and cannot be separated.


Q: there was an early consensus that it did not matter is UGC was bad?  Will it be a more pressing question in a few years?  


Kevin: when I indicated that it did not matter, the fact is that people are participating in the community, so we as a business is to build as big a community as possible,  we are not going to put a value judgement on quality, but it is awesome that it is happening. That is what we want.,  they do things that goes beyond content generation,  because some peoples stuff is good, it creates this pool of employees.  A large proportion have been hired out of the community.  People who contribute can be identified as generators, they can get contracts etc.  this all just generates more stuff for the community. So 4400 neverwinter community modules have been created.  That is a lot of extra material for people.  Neverwinter came out 5 years ago…average cycle for games is first few weeks,  because of the toolset, it is in its 5th edition and is high in game charts.   So it is not bad that a lot of material is bad.  It is good that some is good.  From the business model, it is not ness for all to be good.

Caterina.  Same for flickr,  my photos are consistently crappy.  I take with cameraphone, more as a way to communicate with friends.  95% of everything is crap, or not relevant to you. You need to create a system so you can find the 5% you are interested in.  Just because not good for you, does not mean it does not have a value.

Rob: good or bad is a relic of a scarcity economy.  A 2 way network invites the possibility of an exchange when people can create a context, with metadata.   Gives different ways of perception. This is the biggest shift, so that audiences can deem what is valuable and they make the decisions themselves.

Q: are you predicting a shift to get exclusive UGC when these become hubs (ie without the ‘original’ ie star wars)

Rob: isn’t this what flickr is?  Content streams intersect.  Lonelygirl15 is the same.  you get an economy around these that becomes self sustaining.


Q: what is the boundary for what is or is not a game. How do you get people involved


Kevin: when a company wants to develop a community they made a difficult decision.  They make a decision to release a toolset that takes a lot of time and consumes many people in the company.  Look at Oblivion. You have access to everything.  You can manipulate everything.  Therefore you can break the game in a second.  When you make a conscious decision to release a tool set you have to provide a wide breadth of things they can do and then a lot of work to make sure they can’t break it.

Li: on the bubble project, it was just peoples frustration towards advertising.  Gives people a chance to talk back to things that is forced down their throat.  Give the opportunity to express their freedom of speech.

Caterina: a human need.  A 10month old nephew just points at things…look, look.  You want to share your experience and show things to other people,  it is a desire to connect, to have your perspective seen and understood.  We have ended up with mmp photosharing.  When we made groups we anticipated certain things, not people using them for numerical order groups.  What’s in my bag.  Transparent screens is so much fun.  it changed photography from being formal etc to people taking photos to participate which is very different behaviour.

Rob: people trying to meet human needs, eg maslow diagram.   Certainty and variety.  Significance and connection.   Growth and contribution.   Any collaborative effort can fulfil these needs, giving satisfaction.   Money is not the driver why people do this.   This is not about the product.  If you think about you video being a product, it is the wrong way of thinking. It is not a product, it is participation.  Participatory is all about the doing, not the end stuff.  It is most important that they are doing not consuming.


Q: from media planning, getting a lot of messages whether welcome or not welcome.  We are funding the space, so reps trying to get them to be involved.


Caterina: example is Nikons stunning gallery. Got in touch with flickr users, gave them a camera, used on website and on commercials.   Thought that was the perfect intersect. Have been doing a fantastic job of doing.  Needs more creative thinking, more co-operation, is harder, needs more leg work..  but is authentic and this pays off big time.. there is a place for it and it is not just slapping an ad against the content – involving the people.  

Kevin: we are starting to explore ingame advertising, there is a strong cultural push in company that it is not exploitive, not intrusive.  We anticipate that movies have product placement/  we have to ensure we do not break suspension of disbelief with players in world with ingame adverts.   You can’t pick up a coke in a medieval game.  Has to be completely in context and so well woven into the world to be transparent so you are expecting to se the ads.

Caterina: you also have to be prepared to have the bubble ads to come along.

Ji: the bubbles add value to the ads. Things happen organically; give up control and you may be happy.


Q: when creating elder scrolls 2, got a number of people registering opver 65.  they had been given the game along with a computer by children. Generally now housebound who enjoyed travel. They created a character that suited themselves. The walked around being an itinerant priest. Got social interaction,, just walking around.  The did not give a damn about the quest…they wanted to see the detail.   They used it for their purpose.  This taught us that the move you try and constrain, the more people try and break the game.  Oblivion toolset was put in with the understanding that people wanted to break it.   We talked about metatagging, by it’s nature it is wonderful, to give more information.  But how do I get rating and determine good and bad.   How do I find the good stuff?


Li: that’s web3.0!!!

Caterina: there’s a lot of work that is being done about personalisation.   Working at yahoo on myweb…gives search results that I am interested in.  you have own definitions of cool.   Myweb would find me things that I thought was cool. Was constraining search  results to pages that my friends had looked at.  You will see more stuff that does that.

Kevin: does movielens do what you are after.  You rank your movies and then it matches up with similar lists and displays similar preferences.    

Caterina: you have to contribute the content or it is not going to work!



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